Sunday, November 22, 2009
Critical Beatdown: Round Two
Gucci Mane feat. Plies, "Wasted"
NS: I was originally embarrassed to note that I only know Gucci Mane through a verse he did on Big Boi's beautiful "Shine Blockas," but this anodyne example of shallow, corporate rap doesn't make me think I've missed that much. The beat is okay, the kind of thing Lil Wayne could leverage into something better on his next mixtape. 2/5
AM: A rarity--an ode to getting drunk as dumb and fun as the real thing. Attention minors: there is no such thing as a "Ghetto Public Service Announcement," so take Gucci's pronouncements with a grain of salt, or at least a glass of water. 4/5
Beach House, "Norway"
NS: Beach House could be blamed for not showing much depth in their trafficking of woozy soundscapes, but one can't argue with effective wooze, accompanied this time by vocals that really showcase the best of both singers. Top-notch songsmithing. 4/5
AM: Beach House always sounded out-of-focus, but now they're gone blissfully out-of-tune. If Vic and Alex are going to keep releasing killer first singles like this, I'm going to continue buying their albums the day they come out. 4.5/5
Califone, "Funeral Singers"
NS: Nothing Califone does these days seems as cool as Heron King Blues, but that's okay. The singer-songwriter angle is redeemed, as in the Beach House song, with odd male-female harmonizing, plus some gnarled electric guitar. 3.5/5
AM: They sound rootsy, and they sound worn-out. Neil Young this ain't, but Califone prove there's still plenty of gas left in the tank, if a bit of rust around the wheels. 3.5/5
Timbaland Feat. Nelly Furtado & SoShy, "Morning After Dark"
NS: I'm ambivalent about Timbaland's increasingly digitized direction--songs like this don't carry the luster of early work but this certainly deserves to be the biggest thing on the radio when contrasted with the latest Gaga or Cyrus. It's all about the chorus with this one, and it is a lustrous chorus. 3.5/5
AM: Shock Value's embarrassing moments--and they were legion--were redeemed by their creator's bug-eyed sense of humor and talent behind the boards. Here, Timbo autotunes himself beyond recognition and chases trends, rather than creating them. Just generic. 2/5
Bob Dylan, "Must Be Santa"
NS: It surely is predictably embarrassing, but what else can one say? Dylan-the-singer is worse than ever, he's performing a rather chintzy song written by someone else, and his accordion-laden arrangement is a deadly combination of obnoxious and unmemorable. 0.5/5
AM: Gonna be honest: I don't hate this. Dylan, who apparently has been sipping from the same cup as Gucci Mane, blusters his way through a song that, it must be said, has considerably more vigor than the entirety of Together Through Life. He's one of a kind, he can't help it. 2.5/5